EppsNet Archive: Music

Brahms Shooting Cats

14 Oct 2016 /

Allegedly, Brahms would sit by a window with a bow-and-arrow-type weapon that Dvorák gave him, and shoot arrows at the cats in the street.

Schmopera

Lullaby, and good night, in the skies stars are briiight . . . GODDAMN CATS!!!

bow and arrow


What Might We Be Missing?

14 Sep 2016 /

Joshua Bell is a violinist, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians. The Washington Post a few years ago did an experiment where they put him in a DC metro station wearing a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. Like a street musician. He’s got an open violin case in front of him so people can put money in.

It’s about 8 a.m. on a Friday, morning rush hour. He plays for 45 minutes, and 1,097 people pass through the area where he’s playing.

Before watching the video, you may want to consider out of that many people — more than 1,000 — how many will recognize the quality for what it is? How many will stop and listen? How much money will he make?

Before you answer, keep in mind that he’s not going to play popular tunes that a lot of people will recognize. He’s not going to play Star Wars, he’s not going to play Disney songs. That’s not the experiment. These are enduring masterpieces.

The piece you’ll hear at the beginning is “Chaconne” by Bach. It’s like the Stairway to Heaven of violin solos. Brahms, also a famous composer — not as famous as Bach but still pretty famous — said: “If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”

The violin he’s playing is a Stradivarius handcrafted in 1713. Price tag? $3.5 million. So he’s got a good fiddle. That’s not the problem.

Americans . . . we’re busy, busy, busy. It’s amazing, funny and dismaying at the same time.

In 45 minutes, seven people stopped what they were doing to listen for at least a minute, 27 gave money for a total of $32.17. That leaves 1,070 people who completely ignored what was happening right in front of them.

As it happens, exactly one person recognized Bell. She enters the video around the 1:35 mark. For the record her name is Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen,” Furukawa said. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?

Well, she lives in one of the (allegedly) most cultivated cities in America. This is not Bakersfield . . . it’s not Des Moines, Iowa. No offense to people from Iowa but in Iowa they’d just call the cops and have the guy thrown out of there.

What I was hoping you might contemplate is — what might we be missing in our haste to catch the subway, get to work, meet expectations, prove that we belong and keep up with all the minutiae of life?

What might we be missing that’s right in front of us and we’re failing to see the beauty of it?


Today I Learned . . .

25 Aug 2016 /

. . . if you show college students a video of Randy Newman, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty, they won’t recognize any of them.


This Year’s Recital

21 Aug 2016 /

I’ve been doing these student recitals once a year for three years, since I started taking piano lessons. Here’s this year’s version. I didn’t nail it but I didn’t botch it either. It was somewhere in-between.

Anecdote: At the refreshment table after the recital, one of the piano teachers in attendance said to me with some surprise, “Your teacher is younger than you?”

“Every person here is younger than me,” I pointed out.


Bad Religion

9 Aug 2016 /

If it brings me to my knees
It’s a bad religion.

— Frank Ocean

The Tigers Have Spoken

17 Jul 2016 /

They shot the tiger on his chain
In a field behind the cages
He walked in circles ’til he was crazy
And he lived that way forever
And he lived that way beside them,
Separate from the other tigers
He did not know another tiger

They shot the tiger on his chain
In a field behind the cages
He walked in circles ’til he was crazy
And he lived that way forever
And he lived that way forever
Just as long as he could remember
If he’d wanted to remember

It was the last time he had felt alive
When he saw that brown-haired lady
She fed him with a bottle as a baby
And he recalled her face and smile
They shot that tiger on his chain


Out of the Blue and Into the Black

6 Jun 2016 /
Rust Never Sleeps

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you’re gone, you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

Neil Young, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”

Salesmanship

6 May 2016 /
Johann Sebastian Bach

“How many pieces are you playing at the piano recital?”

“Two,” I reply, “but one is very short.”

“Who are the composers?”

“Bach and Liszt.”

“What is that? ‘Box’?”

“Why do you ask me who the composers are if you’ve never heard of Bach?”

“That’s salesmanship.” Did I mention he’s a salesman? “You’ve gotta push it.”


Wasteland

2 May 2016 /
Dan Bern (album)

And those that had money looked good but weren’t too happy
And those who didn’t have money didn’t look so good
And weren’t too happy either and in a city of three million
two hundred and sixty nine thousand nine hundred eighty four
Everyone was lonely

Dan Bern, “Wasteland”

We Are Not Making Any Progress on Cellos

30 Apr 2016 /

Yo-Yo Ma’s principal instrument is a Montagnana cello built in 1733. – Strings Magazine

He plays a cello built in 1733!? In 300 years, we’ve learned nothing about making cellos?!


Patience

19 Apr 2016 /


Rickie Lee Jones: All the Young Dudes

6 Apr 2016 /

Just Us Kids

19 Mar 2016 /

Just us kids in the parking lot
Out here givin’ it all we got
We don’t want to get old and die
And there ain’t nothing we wouldn’t try

Ya know we could really have it all
Our kid’s gonna graduate next fall
I could take retirement in 10 years
It’s a damn short movie
How’d we ever get here?

Just us kids hangin’ out today
Watchin’ our long hair turnin’ gray
Not so skinny maybe not so free
Not so many as we used to be

James McMurtry, “Just Us Kids”

Morning Morgantown

2 Mar 2016 /

So so beautiful . . .


Peace Will Come (According to Plan)

1 Mar 2016 /

Angel From Montgomery

12 Jan 2016 /

Just give me one thing, Lord
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go


A Problem Like Maria

30 Dec 2015 /
The Sound of Music

I’m an engineer. If you ask me to solve a problem like Maria, I’ll solve it.


Lover of Life, Singer of Songs

27 Dec 2015 /
Singer

I know the lyrics to a lot of songs . . . not current hits so much but if we’re listening to an oldies type of radio station, which we, the Epps family, are doing in the car right now, I pretty much know every song they play.

“I should be a singer,” I announce. “I would have a tremendous repertoire of songs.”

“But you can’t sing,” my son says.

“Hmmm . . . that’s a legitimate point that I don’t really have an answer for.”


In Spite of Ourselves

9 Dec 2015 /
John Prine Live

She don’t like her eggs all runny
She thinks crossin’ her legs is funny
She looks down her nose at money
She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
She’s my baby I’m her honey
I’m never gonna let her go

He ain’t got laid in a month of Sundays
I caught him once and he was sniffin’ my undies
He ain’t too sharp but he gets things done
Drinks his beer like it’s oxygen
He’s my baby
And I’m his honey
Never gonna let him go

— John Prine, “In Spite of Ourselves”

You Tell Me It’s the Institution

22 Nov 2015 /

Well, you know, you better free your mind instead . . .


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